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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Soil Dynamics Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #354936

Research Project: Enhancing Production and Ecosystem Services of Horticultural and Agricultural Systems in the Southeastern United States

Location: Soil Dynamics Research

Title: Beneficial use of classified paper waste for training land rehabilitation

item BUSBY, RYAN - Environmental Laboratory, Us Army Engineer Research And Development Center, Waterways Experiment St
item Torbert, Henry - Allen
item Prior, Stephen - Steve

Submitted to: Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Environmental Restoration Focus Area
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/14/2018
Publication Date: 12/29/2018
Citation: Busby, R.R., Torbert III, H.A., Prior, S.A. 2018. Beneficial use of classified paper waste for training land rehabilitation [abstract]. Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) Environmental Restoration Focus Area. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: This project will demonstrate and validate utilization of pulverized waste paper as an organic soil amendment for rehabilitation of disturbed training lands. Large quantities of classified documents are landfilled by the Department of Defense (DoD) since they have been pulverized too finely to be recycled. However, on military training lands requiring rehabilitation, this material can be used to reestablish native warm season perennial grasses adapted to nutrient poor soils. Abundant soil nitrogen can hinder native grass establishment, thus the addition of a carbon rich amendment (i.e., pulverized paper) can decreased nitrogen availability over the short term which favors grass establishment. Paper was analyzed to determine available plant nutrients and to ensure low contaminant concentrations. Two study sites were established at Fort Polk, LA. Paper was applied at rates of 18, 36, 54, and 72 Mg ha-1 at one site while rates at the other site were halved (9, 18, 27, and 36 Mg ha-1). Paper treatments, a standard practice treatment, and a control were replicated 4 times at each site in a randomized complete block design. Data collection consisted of plant species composition and biomass, plant nutrient concentrations, soil respiration, and soil physiochemical properties. Overall, first year data indicated that paper application worked as expected. Nitrogen was immobilized as decomposition occurred, reducing invasive plant growth and favoring native grass establishment. Soil properties improved, which should have a lasting effect on drainage, erosion, and plant growth. After year one, the 27 Mg ha-1 paper application appears to provide the greatest benefit to both soil and plants. This project will provide a unique alternative to the disposal of pulverized classified documents. Since DoD is the largest US producer of classified documents, providing an alternative to landfilling pulverized paper will result in reduced operational costs while simultaneously supporting rehabilitation of DoD training lands.